Ian uses a sample of his library to tell the story of how we went from labor arbitrage to a world of robots, ERPs, CRMs, RPA, and AI. Now, a key role of digital-era executives is to understand this complex landscape and apply these new technologies effectively.
- Let's face it, the world of work is in love with digital. Everything is digital these days. Whether it's your marketing strategy, your customer experience, your back office operations approach, or your current flavor of transformation. Chances are good it is all digital or trying to be. To make matters even more interesting, the world of work has become inundated with a new dictionary of digital. If you run any part of a business, be it a branch, a division, or the whole darn thing, it's not good enough to understand finance, accounting, operations, and people management anymore.
You now need to hold court as your teams discuss ERPs, CRMs, RPA, AI, and a growing list of systems, algorithms, and tool sets. And deciphering this list is only just the beginning. You also have to discern what is hype and what is actually mature enough and real enough to merit investing your resources in. Let's use this library to see how we got here. About 20 years ago the key was to be an innovator, disrupting your core business in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing business environment.
And one of the most important innovations driving the global work trend was the fact that the world was becoming flat, offering access to passionate and qualified talent at much lower cost. And labor arbitrage had a good run, creating economic powerhouses in both manufacturing and services in countries like China and India. But change is inevitable and so is inflation. So we began to look for alternatives in what became known as the fourth industrial revolution, in which the second machine age became the main event.
In this age robots have risen and become a potent force for productivity and efficiency. And we've used these robots, not in industrial settings, but also to achieve service automation in what we began calling the future of work. But as philosophical creatures we began to struggle with our place in this narrative. Will we be needed anymore? Is there a scenario in which humans and machines are the best answer? And while process automation and algorithms continue to improve, we console ourselves with the belief that there will always be jobs for which only humans need apply.
So now we're in a struggle to see whether enterprises will thrive based on the human advantage or the AI advantage or both. And as the social animals we are, we can't help but begin anthropomorphizing our digital colleagues, going so far as giving them names and even asking whether robots should have rights. This is the world in which you lead. It's no longer good enough to manage employees, finances, and customers.
The modern executive has to get her head around this dynamic landscape, all while projecting a clear vision and plan for how these pieces plug together and how the business intends to capitalize on them. Let's see how you might do that.
- Understanding the digital operations landscape
- Where digital ops fits in your business
- Digital ops front-office and back-office use cases
- Drafting a strong, top-down mandate
- Investing reasonably in digital transformation
- Managing expectations for AI projects